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Reporters Without Borders said Monday that journalists in Africa
faced worsening working conditions in 2003 and warned that the
continent's independent media were in the process of disappearing
in several countries.
"2003 was not a very good year for press freedom in Africa," the
international press freedom advocate said in its annual report,
released to coincide with World Press Freedom Day.
Two journalists were killed in Ivory Coast and a third probably
executed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, RSF said, adding that
many others had been imprisoned.
"Independent news media are becoming scarce throughout Africa and
journalists continue to flee with a heavy heart." In Ivory Coast,
ranked 140th of 193 countries for press freedom by the US Freedom
House organisation, Kloueu Gonzreu, a journalist working for the
Ivorian news agency AIP, was killed in a war zone and Jean Helene,
a correspondent for Radio France Internationale, was shot dead in
A Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-Andre Kieffer, the subject of
violent attacks in the government-supporting press because of his
critical stance, has not been seen since mid-April.
Independent press was an "endangered species," Reporters sans
frontieres (RSF) cautioned.
"Worrying examples include the closure of 'The Daily News' in
Zimbabwe, the closure of several news media in Gabon, the
continuing ban on any privately-owned press in Eritrea, the
harassment of the only opposition newspaper in Djibouti and the
censorship that was temporarily imposed on radio stations in
Burundi and Chad." The wars and intermittent fighting in some
African countries played a major role in this declining freedom and
it is becoming more and more dangerous to cover a war in Africa,
Journalists must also "face the wrath of aging regimes clinging to
power and protective of their authority. They all balk at
liberalisation, especially when broadcasting is involved," it
Ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa have maintained a monopoly of
radio and television broadcasting.
Free expression also suffered serious setbacks in Mali, Niger and
Senegal, RSF said, listing expulsions and arrests of journalists
and the closure of several privately-owned radio stations in
Significantly, for the first time since World War II, journalists
were convicted of inciting murder and violence in a high profile
hate media case at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,
which prosecutes the key perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.
Three former leading journalists with Rwandan news media received
sentences ranging from 35 years to life imprisonment for "inciting
genocide" in 1994, when at least 800 000 people were
"It was hoped these sentences would be a warning to those who
continue to put out hate messages elsewhere in Africa," RSF said of
the ruling by the international tribunal.
But it noted that several newspapers in Ivory Coast "often cast oil
on the flames, stirring up hatred towards foreigners and pitting
communities against each other."
RSF highlighted Mozambique for the "exemplary" trial into the
murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso, which saw six people receive
long jail sentences.
"The case is worthy of note, and should serve as a model for other
African countries to follow.
"It should also be a warning to the murderers of journalists who
are still at large in Angola, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Nigeria
and elsewhere that they, too, will one day have to answer for their
actions," RSF concluded. - Sapa-AFP